Captain MS Dhoni says the “players have taken more responsibility” this season
A “change in attitude” in dealing with the various challenges posed by playing during a pandemic has resulted in a change in fortunes for the Chennai Super Kings, according to captain MS Dhoni and coach Stephen Fleming.
Six months ago, the Super Kings left the UAE having endured their worst-ever showing at the IPL, not making the playoffs for the first time since the tournament’s inception in 2008. Now, they are back on a familiar perch, top of the points table six games into IPL 2021, having completed another convincing victory, this time against the Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Speaking at the post-match presentation in Delhi, Dhoni elaborated. “One of the facts was, five to six months we were out of cricket [before IPL 2020]. Nothing was really allowed. It was not like you could go and practice on your own, that also makes it slightly more difficult. Then the change of venue [from India to the UAE], and you know quarantine, it was a slightly longer quarantine, people were not used to it. There were quite a few factors that could have resulted in that [poor showing].
“But overall, I think to really sum it up nicely, the players have taken more responsibility this year – you will be facing adverse things but ultimately it boils down to how each and every individual rises to the occasion and does that 10% extra for the team.”
At the post-match press conference, Fleming spoke on similar lines. “It was tough in the UAE. We had a pretty bad run. A lot of things went against us, which we didn’t make too much of at the time. We got a pretty big knock at the start of the tournament with a number of reasons, but [during] the last part of the tournament we were really comfortable. We made some changes around our attitude towards what we were doing, and then we were really sure [of] what style we wanted to play going into this year’s IPL.”
The Super Kings had a rocky start to IPL 2020, with more than ten of their contingent testing positive for Covid-19, and their batting mainstay over several seasons Suresh Raina returning home for personal reasons before the tournament began. While nothing more on the matter has been officially revealed, it is understood that he had told the team management that he had issues with staying in the bio-secure bubble.
“We needed to play a faster game, we needed to keep evolving if we were not in Chennai. And that’s what we are trying to do”
The Super Kings subsequently did not seem to be able to fix on a playing XI in the early part of the season, fielding 17 players across the first six matches and winning only two in that period. Eventually, they would go on to play 20 players across the season. By comparison, this year they have fielded 13 players in the first six games – with nine playing in all the matches so far – and have won five of these.
Both Dhoni and Fleming admitted this clarity over the XI was a plus. “Whenever you start a tournament, you may or may not face some kind of issue with the playing XI,” Dhoni said. “If there are a few issues, the earlier you settle it, the better it is, because it gives some sort of a settled view to the team-mates.”
“The challenge we had – and most franchises had – was that we weren’t sure where we were going to play,” Fleming said. He said the team worked towards correcting this in the latter part of the 2020 season, with an eye on IPL 2021. “We worked really hard on that in Dubai. It wasn’t that we just ran the season out, we made sure we made the most of every opportunity we had. We finished that well. To be honest, we were only one, maybe two, games away from getting through [to the qualifiers]. So it wasn’t actually a disaster – the finish was really good.
“So we took a lot out of that, and in the off season we just looked at players that could fit and do a job – not just in Chennai but in conditions that were still a bit foreign. We needed to play a faster game, we needed to keep evolving if we were not in Chennai. And that’s what we are trying to do; we are not the finished product by any means, but we’re playing well at the moment.”
That said, Dhoni had a special word of praise for the players who have not got their chance yet. “For the last 8-10 years we’ve not really changed a lot of players in our squad, and also we appreciate the ones who are not playing a lot,” he said. “Keeping the dressing-room atmosphere healthy is very important. I think the individuals, we need to credit them, because those are the persons who need to [not take sitting out personally and] really digest it, because it’s not an easy thing – when you are at the top level you want to play. I feel we need to give extra credit to the players who have not played so far.”
Recent Match Report – India vs New Zealand Final 2019-2021
All the stats, analysis and colour from the title bout of the inaugural World Test Championship
‘Pleasurable for bowlers’
The pitch report is in. Simon Doull and Sunil Gavaskar see the grass and call it a “pleasurable” surface for the bowlers. There is grass, there are the overheads. And this Test might not get all five days in. So a real case for bowl first.
India’s coach Ravi Shastri has confirmed India won’t change the XI they had named. Had it rained even today, they might have thought along those lines, but there is enough depth, skill and variation, he says, for a proper Test match.
It is on time
The outfield is ready and fit. Toss in 25 minutes. The pitch looks a lot less green than it did, but then again there will be moisture retained and overcast conditions. I don’t know, I would just like to lose the toss if you ask me.
There will be cricket
Hey, you, yes you over at the weather websites and port terminals webcams. You can stop looking there for a while. The weather is dry till late afternoon, and we will get cricket. Will it be on time? We will let you know soon
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo
Recent Match Report – Notts vs Derbyshire North Group 2021
Veteran allrounder becomes first Englishman to 250 wickets and 5000 runs in T20
Nottinghamshire 152 for 6 (Patel 64*, van Beek 3-22) beat Derbyshire 150 for 6 (du Plooy 58*, Reece 56, Patel 2-14) by two runs
The 36-year-old hit three sixes and six fours in an unbeaten 62 – his first half-century in the format for three years in his 110th consecutive appearance – and in taking 2 for 14 from three overs of his left-arm spin entered the record books as the first English player to complete the double of 250 wickets and 5000 runs in Twenty20 cricket.
Luis Reece hit 56 from 26 balls and Leus Du Plooy an unbeaten 58 including a six off the last ball but Derbyshire fell two runs short of their target of 153.
Ben Duckett supported Patel with 38 off 25 balls as the Outlaws totalled 152 for 6, the wickets shared equally between seamers Logan van Beek and George Scrimshaw.
Asked to bat first, the Outlaws lost top-scorers Alex Hales and Joe Clarke in the opening over, Hales leg before for a duck after van Beek’s opening delivery was called wide, Clarke well caught by Billy Godleman on the run from mid-off.
Debutant Sol Budinger confidently cut his first ball for four off Conor McKerr but was dropped at mid-off in the same over and miscued van Beek to be caught by the wicketkeeper in the next.
The Outlaws were restricted to 40 for 3 from a 4.3 over Powerplay before Scrimshaw removed Tom Moores. Duckett pulled Reece for the first six of the night but fell when Scrimshaw found some extra bounce and had him caught at backward point. Scrimshaw claimed his third wicket as Mullaney holed out to midwicket but Patel lifted Fynn Hudson-Prentice and Matt Critchley’s legspin over the rope in a 23-ball half-century and did the same to McKerr.
Derbyshire were 19 without loss after an untidy first over by spinner Matt Carter. They were checked by Jake Ball taking wickets with his first two balls as Harry Came looped to deep gully and Godleman hit straight to mid-off but Reece hit Luke Fletcher for 18 and there were sixes for both Reece and du Plooy in Ball’s second over as Derbyshire posted 61 for 2 in the powerplay.
Reece fell when he picked out Hales on the long-on boundary before Patel took his place in the record books by pinning Critchley leg before as the left-arm spinner teamed up with skipper Mullaney in stemming the flow of runs, Patel bowling Hudson-Prentice, before holding a tricky catch as Carter dismissed Brooke Guest.
du Plooy hit three sixes to take the Falcons close but ultimately not close enough.
Aaron Finch: IPL return ‘hard to justify’ for Australia players missing tours | Cricket
Australia’s limited-overs captain Aaron Finch believes it will be difficult for those players who have withdrawn from the tours of West Indies and Bangladesh justifying a return to the IPL when the competition resumes in September.
He confirmed that it had been part of long-term planning to rest David Warner and Pat Cummins from the trips, but they have been joined in staying home by Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Kane Richardson and Jhye Richardson. Allrounder Daniel Sams, who caught Covid-19 in India shortly before the IPL started, had previously taken himself out of contention for selection while Steven Smith was ruled out with an elbow injury.
Finch said he understood the mental toll that the IPL had taken on players – with the Australians enduring a complicated journey home due to border closures – but followed what national selector Trevor Hohns said last week about national duty taking priority later in the year.
“This is only my personal opinion, I think they would find it hard to justify going back and playing that second half of the IPL purely based on the workload coming up with a T20 World Cup then a huge home summer,” Finch told SEN WA when speaking to Adam Gilchrist. “It’s a tough situation everyone has been put in but personally I’d find it hard to do that knowing how challenging it is mentally and on your family.”
Although Finch knew he would be without Warner and Cummins in the coming months he admitted the overall number of pullouts had “surprised” him. Their absences have meant recalls for Dan Christian, Ben McDermott and Ashton Turner plus a maiden international call-up for pace bowler Wes Agar. It also means that Finch won’t have had a first-choice T20 team together for a year when the World Cup comes around.
“Pat Cummins and David Warner, that was a long-term plan for them that they weren’t going to go on this tour from the outset,” he said. “Having a big summer last year followed by IPL with a T20 World Cup and a view to the Ashes, guys who are playing three formats of the game it can be so brutal on them travelling and playing in bubbles.
“I was a little bit surprised [with the others]. I’ve chatted to them all. A little bit surprised but also understandable. I know from my own point of view having gone to the UK then all the way through the home summer, I know towards the end of that year I was absolutely cooked mentally. Almost when the season finished it’s a great relief so I can understand, but wish they were there.”
Australia are due to depart for West Indies on June 28 for a tour that will include five T20Is and three ODIs. They are then scheduled to head straight to Bangladesh for five further T20Is between August 2 and 10 although those matches are still awaiting final approval around the biosecure plans.
Finch will return home and complete his quarantine shortly before his wife Amy is due to give birth to their first child on September 8. He expects to be able to be at home for three or four weeks before beginning final preparations for the T20 World Cup which is due to start in mid-October and may also be shifted to the UAE.
Once he is back and through another two weeks of quarantine, Finch’s home season will begin with domestic cricket in the BBL for Melbourne Renegades. Australia’s limited-overs cricket during the summer features visits by New Zealand and Sri Lanka from late January after the Ashes.
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